August 5th 2018 – Wellingborough Golf Club 

Match result Northamptonshire 7.5 - Suffolk 4.5

The 4th match of the 2018 Anglian League campaign brought us back to Wellingborough Golf Club for the last time. WGC have hosted all the County first team matches during 2017 and 2018 and our thanks and appreciation go to everyone at the club for their hospitality during that time, there is no doubt that being able to use one venue, for practice, winter sessions and matches does improve on our home advantage – not that we have been 100% successful. Wellingborough Golf Club have been a great host and every county that has visited has been impressed with the course and the club.

Visiting on this occasion were Suffolk, who have made impressive improvements in their county squad in the last 2 seasons, so we knew this would be a tough series of matches. The morning foursomes began under cloudless skies and the temperature already high. The Northamptonshire team for this match was Michael Farr, Mikey Chambers, Lee Hitchcock, Fraser Carnihan, Luis Witherall, Charlie Salter, Liam McNeela (fresh from winning the county cup the previous day) and Miles Mudge. Miles was a late addition to the team, coming into 1st team from 2nd team duties, following the huge success of Callum Farr at the English Amateur at Formby Golf Club. After qualifying through the 36 holes of strokeplay, Callum went on to win 4 matchplay games, reaching Saturday afternoon’s semi final, only losing on the 19th hole – this is a fantastic achievement, huge congratulations from everyone in the county!

Back to the Suffolk game our pairings were led out by Michael and Mikey, followed by Fraser and Lee, then Charlie and Luis and at the back Liam and Miles. Through the 6th hole, 3 of the matches had gained small advantages with one match being 1 down. On what was already and incredibly warm day, the Northants players went about their business really professionally, making few mistakes meaning their opponents were having to win holes rather than be handed them. After 11 holes all 4 matches were leading, matches 1, 2 and 4 were one up, match 3 two up – so all looking positive, but all very slim advantages.

At the 15th Michael and Mikey’s lead had gone and were all square after 15, but they would win the next 2 holes to record a very solid 2&1 victory. Lee and Fraser would maintain their advantage through 14, 15, 16 and 17 and played the last 1up – the Suffolk tee shot on 18 would find the water and would lead to a very solid and composed 2 up victory from the experienced pair.

By this time Charlie and Luis had already shaken hands with their opponents and 4&3 victory being confirmed when Charlie holed a putt from just off the front of the 15th green – there was never anything but positive vibes from these two all morning – their play from 12 to 15 was just too good to match.

This left Miles and Liam on course, their 1 hole advantage from 11 had gone and were all square after 15, would lose 16 but win it back after a sensational iron shot from Mudgie. The 12 footer left could not be converted, but the Suffolk pairs 6 footer for the halve slid by – leading the players to the 18th tee. Both second shots would just about make it to the top level, where the flag was located, but both slowly rolled down the steep slope. Both pairs would complete solid 2 putts and shake hands on a halved point. And hand Northants a commanding 3.5-0.5 lead going into the afternoon.
The singles matches were then lined up, with Charlie Salter leading the charge for Northants, followed by Mikey Chambers, Lee Hitchcock, Luis Witherall, Fraser Carnihan, Michael Farr, Miles Mudge and Liam McNeela. When paired against the Suffolk order, everything looked very well matched. Knowing 3 points were required for victory but every single point won or halved may prove crucial to the end of season results, the guys set about their work, on what was now an incredibly hot Sunday afternoon. Not a time to be suffering with stomach problems – from the late stages of the morning matches Miles had begun to suffer badly – Mike Gilbrook found some suitable medication and we all hoped that Miles would recover enough – the thought of the captain having to play probably gave him every encouragement to dig deep!!

As is typical now, Captain Bott and Team Manager Gilbrook see the players off from the first tee then make their way down to the back of the 6th green to catch up – Charlie was 1up, Mikey was 2up, Lee 1 down, Luis 1 down, Fraser 3 down, Michael 2 up, Miles 1 down and Liam 1 up – so as we all expected very tight and clear that we would need to fight hard for every single point.

Mikey in match 2 took charge of his match soon after the 6th and with a mix of high-quality golf and a couple of opponents mistakes would be 6 up after 11, Charlie had improved to 2 up through 12, but it was beginning to look like we were struggling to get across the line in other matches.

Lee and Luis both remained behind in their matches after 11 holes and Fraser could not find his groove at all – Michael, despite reporting he had mixed 4 birdies with 4 or 5 big mistakes, said he was 3 down. Miles’ illness hampered him badly, again mixed with some very consistent golf from his opponent, was 2 down after 11, then would lose the next 2 holes to birdies to be 4 down. The ray of hope came from Liam at the back who was 3 up playing the 12th hole.

News from the first match was also not good, Charlie had taken a 1 hole advantage to the last and lost the hole giving us just a half – given what we knew at this time, this looked like being a first nail in the coffin. By this time Mikey had already shaken hands on a very composed and classy performance with a 6&4 victory – so we had added 1.5 points to the lunchtime total to give us 5 points, remember 6.5 required for victory.

At this point the Captain had heard news from Norfolk that Leicestershire had recorded a 7.5-4.5 victory – 4 wins from 4 matches for them, meaning any hopes we still had on league victory depended on us winning this match.

In match 3, Lee was hanging on for dear life – he was 1 down after 15 but couldn’t his birdie putts to get back on level terms kept lipping out. Lee’s tenacity shone through again, gaining a half point from his match when he had never been in front – Lee has now played all 18 holes, in all sessions this season, except one 17th hole victory – and this half point could be crucial! 5.5points secured…

Luis’ match would also reach the 18th hole, in a similar vein, Luis had also never been in front in his match – unfortunately Luis could not find the required hole winning birdie, his Suffolk opponent securing a par, which was enough for a 1up victory.

Fraser had by this time succumbed to defeat on the 15th and admitted afterwards that the anger sharks had got hold early! To be fair to Fraser, his opponent Paul Waring is profoundly deaf and from experience, this can be very difficult to deal with – no one to bounce of and chat to for 3+ hours. Paul is an excellent golfer and was recently crowned champion of the British Deaf Golfers Association.

So this left 3 matches on the course, Michael, who last we heard was 3 down after 14, Miles 4 down after 13 and Liam 1 up after 13. Liam, in reality, was our last hope…BUT when the captain caught up with Michael, playing 16, having offloaded onto Michael about how could we lose this match from 3 points up at lunch, how this had the feeling of the Lincolnshire match in June 2017, Michael turned and said, ‘would it make you feel better if I told you I was 3 up’!!!!? Now, it can be a tough job being captain at times, you have absolutely no control of what goes on during the rounds, it can be incredibly frustrating watching and when you’re desperate to win the league title, this little ‘joke’ can be enough to make a very calm man explode!!

Michael calmly parred the 16th hole and shook hands with his opponent on a 3&2 victory – and the funny side could be seen! Credit to Michael, he had kept this to himself for several holes and also credit to him for two victories on the day, when obviously not having all his best ‘stuff’! This point got us across the line to 6.5 points.

Miles was fighting back and from dormie 4 down won 15 and 16 to push his match up 17 – but could not find the win to carry the match to the 18th.

Liam’s match arrived at the 16th and he was 1up – both tee shots finding trees on opposite sides of the green, Liam was fortunate to be able to get his ball to 15 feet, Suffolk captain Jack Cardy, was not so lucky and could only chip his ball across the front of the green, then chipping up to 4 feet. Liam would knock in his putt for a birdie 3 and take a dormie 2up advantage to 17. A rare wide drive from Liam left him no choice but to play his second shot up the 2nd and leaving 90 yards for his 3rd. Jack whose tee shot also hit a tree but bounced back into the fairway hit a fantastic long iron from 220 and would make a solid par to take the match to the last. Both players hit the 18th fairway, Jack’s approach played first was well judged to 12 feet, Liam’s possibly a little heavy, again didn’t make the top of the slope. A good putt up the slope and Liam’s 4 was conceded – Jack’s putt looked perfect from all angles but just didn’t take the expected break, meaning Liam had added another point to our total and overall a 7.5-4.5 victory – far more comfortable looking than it felt for much of the afternoon.

Huge credit should go to the Suffolk players for their afternoon fight back and we very much hope they can perform in a similar fashion in the last match of the season against Leicestershire – Northants need a Suffolk victory and also a win of our own in Cambridgeshire….

The Northants players were fantastic on this day – the conditions were incredibly tough but the way they all fought through a difficult afternoon to achieve this win is a credit to them all and I’m sure will hold us in good stead for the final challenge of 2018.



1Mike Chambers and Michael Farr12/1Calvin Sherwood and Chris Fleming0
2Fraser Carnihan and Lee Hitchcock12upJosh Cottrell and James Biggs0
3Luis Witherall and Charlie Salter14/3Paul Waring and Ben Sayers0
4Liam McNeela and Miles Mudge0.5A/SJack Cardy and Sam Debenham0.5A/S

Foursomes Total3.5



1Charlie Salter0.5A/SCalvin Sherwood0.5A/S
2Mikey Chambers16/4James Biggs0
3Lee Hitchcock0.5A/SChris Fleming0.5A/S
4Luis Witherall0
Ben Sayers11up
5Fraser Carnihan0
Paul Waring14/3
6Michael Farr13/2Josh Cottrell0
7Miles Mudge0
Sam Debenham12/1
8Liam McNeela11upJack Cardy0

Singles Total4


Foursomes Total3.5